Jul 28 2006

Two failed books

Published by at 7:57 am under Books

Picoverse by Robert Metzger, and
Kiln People by David Brin

I read parts of both these science fiction books but didn’t finish either as I lost interest in their story lines. Both were unplanned reads that were started when I couldn’t find the books I wanted in the library. The first book was taken on a trip and soon put aside, but the second was mostly complete when I bowed out.

Picoverse was billed as hard SF which to me means that is is more tightly tied to real science theories and speculations. In this case the theories had to do with the big bang and quantum physics. Some fictional brilliant scientists and some greedy scientists combine to create a fusion device so powerful it creates little mini universes (the picoverses of the title). So far so good, but then good and bad entangled versions of some characters appeared and occasionally jumped back and forth through ‘wormholes’ connecting the picoverses to our world. When that started, I dropped it.

Kiln people lasted much longer; 300 plus pages and within sight of the end. In some future time, the ability to make copies (‘dittos’ or ‘dits’) of one’s self in clay is widespread. These copies only last for a day but they carry copies of ones brain, memory and ‘soul’ for that day. At the end of the day they ‘dissolve’ and the clay is often recycled. If they make it back to their human (AKA ‘archie’) the day they experienced can be ‘inloaded’ back to the human but only to the proper archie who then has to integrate the two, or more, versions of the day’s experiences. All in all a clever setup.

Kiln people starts out interesting as it explores the implications on people and society of such a multiplicity of people and their dits via a detective story. The intrepid private eye is chasing a maker of illicit copies of people and lots of action ensues. Eventually, the plot explodes into a grand conspiracy of the ‘ditnapper’ and an insane scientist who wants to be god. After a fair amount of the mad scientist, who was now a dit who’d killed his archie, it became too tedious. Thinking about a society with endless ‘free’ copies who could do your work or amplify your ability to do what you do was fun. Made scientists made of clay lost me.

Oh well. That should be enough science fiction for a while.

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